Former Heads of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo held separate meetings with stakeholders last week where they dispassionately dissected the worsening insecurity in Nigeria and generated far-reaching recommendations. General Abubakar, who is the Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), chaired a meeting on Wednesday, April 8, 2021, which brought together stakeholders, like former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Saad 111, Bishop Matthew Kukah, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus, Abuja Catholic Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi; Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong; Chairman of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, religious leaders, the service chiefs and several other dignitaries.
At the meeting, General Abdulsalami revealed that “The proliferation of all calibre of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria, in particular, is worrying. It is estimated that there are over six million of such weapons in circulation in the country. This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons. We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems.”
Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was host to a delegation led by an Islamic scholar, Dr Ahmed Mahmud Gumi, at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Sunday, April 4, 2021. Mr Gumi was accompanied by Usman Yusuf, Tukur Mamu, Umar Ardo, Ibrahim Abdullahi, Suleiman Gumi, Suleiman Yakubu and Buba Mohammed to the home of Mr Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
At the parley in Abeokuta, several recommendations were made on how to tackle the spate of violence. It argued that all well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by desisting from blame game; desisting from ethnicising the crimes; desisting from religionising the crimes; respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially.
Specifically, the meeting agreed that: “State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states. The federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have a common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against…”
We align with the consensus at the two meetings that Nigerians must close ranks to tackle the insecurity. Government must find a way of working with, not only political leaders, but the corporate world, civil society organisations, religious leaders, and the media as it searches for the solution to the insecurity in the country. We call for the recruitment of youths into the various security agencies, the retraining of police and military personnel to ensure they have the capacity to deal with the current and emerging security challenges and adequate funding of security agencies. Government must also find a way to tackle poverty, unemployment, discontentment and the growing number of out-of-school children. As we all know, a combination of these issues is directly or remotely responsible for the violence in the country.
Furthermore, we call on the media to observe the cardinal principles of objectively, fairness, independence, truthfulness, transparency and national interest in reporting the insecurity in the country. We urge the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the like, to urgently meet and stem the bigotry, sectionalism and sensationalism in news reports, analyses and opinions published on both legacy and new media platforms. All hands must be on deck to defend Nigeria instead of endangering it on the altar of selfish interest.